Pen, paper and a pandemic helped turn a Salmon Arm woman’s dream of writing a book into reality.
As a writer of poetry, Pam Saul had long thought about a book, but it was the impact and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted her decision to begin.
Never having learned to use a computer or to type, Saul literally wrote her book with pen on paper.
Saul grew up in a little hill village on the edge of the Yorkshire dales, without electricity or paved roads. Her family had the only car, so took lots of trips running people to a neighbouring market town. She travelled to school by train.
Her father had a sea-going boat and she spent a lot of time on it as a little girl. He was an electrical engineer and specialized in marine engineering, so she would often accompany him to the docks. His boat was his sort of ‘dream child,’ Saul explained.
From that dream came the name of Saul’s youth fiction adventure story, Dreamkeeper.
Pam taught high school in England before moving to B.C. with her husband Mike.
They settled in Prince George and then Penticton where she continued her career as an art educator, along with teaching many other subjects as teachers are often asked to do.
She and Mike retired to Salmon Arm about 30 years ago.
Pam said she chose a youth fiction story because that was the age group of the junior and senior high school students she taught.
“I got very emotionally attached to my job and the students, so that was my comfort zone, I guess, writing for that sort of range and age.”
However, she said Mike pointed out to customers at a recent book signing at Bookingham Palace in Salmon Arm that it’s also a good read for parents and grandparents because of its happy ending.
As one online reader commented: “Pam Saul! What a lovely soul! I am certain any reader, young or otherwise, will benefit immensely from this lady’s wealth of insight, kindness, and genuine understanding.”
Pam said she writes by first tapping into her experiences and then using her imagination.
Her daughter, Rebecca, who has a global company dealing with women’s and girls’ issues, travels a lot. In order for Pam and Mike to see their grandchildren, who are now 18 and 20, they have travelled to remote places such as villages in Tibet or rivers in Nepal.
The characters are quite closely based on their grandchildren, particularly their grandson, she said. The illustration of a boy on the front cover of the book is from an actual photo of her son, Arran, when he was younger.
The story centres on an orphan named Kestrel and his life with the rest of the crew on a ferryboat serving two small villages on the Gecko River.
“Unexpected dangers, tightly held secrets and incredible revelations from the past could easily tear the Dreamkeeper and its crew apart before they reach the end of their astounding journey to the Sparkling Sea,” writes Pam, describing the plot.
While the characters in Dreamkeeper face obstacles, so did Pam in publishing her book. She decided to self-publish, which turned out to be easier said than done.
“It’s been like walking over hot coals for the last year, in that I’m not technologically astute,” she said with a smile. “I’m just a naive person I think.”
Her wish to illustrate and lay out the book herself also complicated matters. She notes the front cover illustration is a little paler than she wanted.
In the end, however, with help from her family, she was completely successful. At her first book signing, which she described as “baptism by fire,” she sold more books than expected.
If you’d like to purchase Dreamkeeper, it is available at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly, online at Friesenpress.com/store/Dreamkeeper and on ‘E’ book at Nookstore, Apple Books, Google play and Kobu store.
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